Eggnog, Tom & Jerry’s, and other beverages served at parties this time of year can pose a significant food safety risk.  

Eggs, a main ingredient in several recipes, can carry harmful bacteria such as Salmonella and Campylobacter jejuni.  Both bacteria cause an unpleasant illness characterized by painful abdominal cramping and diarrhea.  Some people with Campylobacter and Salmonella infections experience other symptoms, such as nausea and vomiting.

cracking-egg1.jpgThings you should know before you take your first drink and risk contracting a foodborne illness from your favorite holiday beverage include the following:

  • Cooking or microwaving egg mixtures to 160 degrees Fahrenheit, or until the egg mixture thickens enough to coat a spoon, will kill any pathogenic bacteria that may be present.
  • Do not fold raw beaten egg whites into the cooked mixture.
  • Eggnog made with egg substitutes is safe since these products have been pasteurized.
  • Commercial eggnog is prepared with pasteurized eggs and requires no cooking.
  • While adding alcohol may inhibit bacterial growth, it cannot be relied upon to kill bacteria which may be in raw eggs.

Pasteurized eggs can be found at various retail outlets across the country.  Although they are not widely distributed at present, they may be in the future.